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Danfoss automates valve assembly with 3 two-armed cobots

European premiere: Danfoss automates valve assembly with 3 two-armed cobots

The work environment has received a significant boost, while employees can work even more efficiently. These are the gains in a new robot cell that Danfoss designed and installed in record time together with the BILA automation company. The operators now work alongside three collaborative duAro robots from Kawasaki. Danfoss Climate Solutions is the first in Europe to optimise assembly tasks with the new flexible robotics technology.

Healthier jobs and more efficient valve assembly. This is the transformation that Michael Breumsø, Vice President, RAC Supply Chain at Danfoss, can be pleased to have created:

We have succeeded in eliminating some of the manual processes with monotonous and strenuous tasks that strain employees’ shoulders and arms. This is the way forward: Robots can help ensure that industrial workers have a healthier work environment - one we can work in until we reach the age of 75.

Danfoss Climate Solutions manufactures cooling and air-conditioning components. Until August 2020, the work of assembling valves was completely manual and required seven operators. They were pulling screwdrivers down and up again above shoulder height at very short intervals. Today, the employees carry out only the complex parts of the process, which require great accuracy and attention to detail.

Now, three employees do the job in close cooperation with the three duAro cobots, while the other four employees are freed up for other tasks at the factory. The automation investment at this workstation will therefore pay for itself in two years.

The employees have accepted the new robot cell, pointing out that the robots are noise-free and easy to operate. In the past, we were used to new machinery causing teething problems, but not with this solution. It perhaps also made a difference that a duAro cobot was provided to us early in the project so that we could all see it before implementation. I think this helped to demystify the technology,” says Michael Breumsø.

Danfoss uses many different types and manufacturers of robots in its production.

The solution with the duAro robots from Kawasaki was especially good for us, because they are both less bulky than shielded robot solutions and also faster than other cobots, because they have two arms. The cell is easy to monitor because it is not enclosed with a roof, plexiglass, electronic safety net or soundproofing. This provides an open and flexible workflow and a good cycle time,” says Michael Breumsø.

Saved 3-6 months by opting out of tender process

Danfoss took a groundbreaking new approach when choosing a solution and supplier. As a result, the entire project lasted only seven to eight months from idea to operation.

Normally, we do a lot of technical preparatory work ourselves, with 70-80 pages of technical writing for suppliers with requirements and detailed specifications of equipment, and then we run a tender process. In this case, however, we chose to ask BILA to draw up a proposal from the outset. It was about making sure that we got the best possible technical solution and not just the solution that we wanted to have. Working so closely with the supplier from the start actually reduced implementation time by three to six months, and we ourselves saved a lot of time on meetings and technical processing,” says Michael Breumsø, Vice President, RAC Supply Chain at Danfoss.

Semi-automated is the way forward

The three cobot cell was commissioned after a thorough analysis, where BILA together with Danfoss screened an entire factory for automation potential and came up with 20 possibilities for process optimisation. Danfoss chose to implement four of these, and the duAro solution for valve assembly was among them. The solution, together with other initiatives, contributed to Danfoss Climate Solutions’ achieving an overall productivity improvement of more than 10 percent in 2020.

When many of the low-hanging fruits have been picked in terms of automation, then the next step is cobots, collaborative robots, where some of the task can be automated and other parts are best handled manually. This is what can improve the competitiveness of the industry in a global market,” points out Peter Suhr, Global Key Account Manager, BILA A/S, who helped to identify the automation potential at Danfoss.

Danfoss plans to reuse the automation concept and the collaborative model at other factories in the Danfoss Group.

Published marts 2021